The Writers Guild of America went on strike today, which to the casual consumer will mean mild TV watching disruption now and, depending on how long it drags on, repeat/reality hell later. But what it means for the writers is so much more. Now, I believe in unions. In fact, I belong to a guild so I support the striking workers unequivocally. And you know I’m always going to have another writer’s back. Solidarity now, scribes! While the negotiation details are complicated they essentially boil down to giving the writers a bigger, fairer slice of the profits pie.
So, what does this mean to the average couch potato? Starting today, all the late night talkers (Dave, Conan, Jay and the rest) and-- sniff, sniff, sob -- Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will have their shows go dark. Expect repeats and the sound of millions of Americans flipping through the dials in frustration come 11 p.m. As for the primetime lineup, most of the scripted dramas and comedies have about two months worth of shows already in the can. So we shouldn’t see too much of a difference, unless things get ugly. And then -- oh, the horror -- networks may start filling the airwaves with even more unscripted reality programs. Kind of makes Tina Fey’s joking on “30 Rock” earlier this season about “MILF Island,” “America’s Next Top Pirate” and “Are you Stronger Than a Dog?” less funny and more foreboding. Bottom line, writing matters. Imagine turning on your TV and seeing nothing but “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” on every dial. Shudder. Pay up, Hollywood. Pay up now.
p.s. I was happy to see almost all of the showrunners from my favorites included in this ad supporting the striking writers. As if I needed another reason to love Tina Fey, she is also no scab.